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Being a successful sales person typically requires a combination of confidence, personality, good communication skills and even a hint of aggression and impatience. Sales personality tests are designed to help employers assess these qualities in job applicants through carefully posed questions.
Employers that conduct assessment testing may do so before a prospect even comes in for an interview, or after candidates have passed an initial screening process. Either way, familiarize yourself with the company’s products or services and know what it is looking for from a sales representative. If you’re unsure, conduct some research before the testing begins. Learn the answers to frequently-asked questions about the company and find out what the most common customer objections are when making a sale.
The company’s sales manager or director is a good person to approach about these issues.
The Testing Process
There are a variety of sales personality tests, each of which poses questions and scenarios in different ways. Be prepared to answer questions related to how you’d prospect for clients, approaches you’d take in delivering sales presentations and what kinds of closing techniques you’d employ to seal the deal. Be straightforward, engaging and passionate about the product or service you’re selling.
Tests may be administered online, in written form, in person, or through a combination of formats.
You may be asked to role play a client sales interaction, so practice with a friend or family member to help you prepare. The tester will judge how quickly you become flustered or frustrated, and how you respond to objections, criticisms or hesitancy. Expect to be faced with a stubborn “client” who requires sales skills of patience, persuasiveness and the ability to create a sense of urgency.
Some sales personality tests measure your past performance as an indicator of your potential for future success. You may be asked in person, or via a questionnaire, to describe a tough sale you were able to make and what techniques you used to close the deal. You also may be asked to address how you’d handle hypothetical situations posed by the tester. This is where knowledge of the company comes in handy, as you can apply what you know in your responses.
Sales positions require traits such as perseverance, persuasiveness and a willingness to go the extra mile in every situation to close the deal. When faced with multiple-choice questions on a written assessment, choose responses that indicate a propensity for these key areas.
Example: If a prospect says they'll have the money to make a purchase next month, would you:
- A: Call them at the first of the following month
- B: Sign them up for a contract on the spot with the first of the following month being the service start date
In this scenario, answer B tells hiring managers that you can turn an objection into a sale without allowing the prospect to put you off.
Example: If a prospect says they can meet you today after hours, or next week during normal business hours, would you:
- A: Make an appointment during business hours
- B: Put in overtime to try and secure the sale ASAP
In this scenario, B is again the strongest answer because it demonstrates your willingness to be flexible and adjust your schedule to meet the needs of the prospect.
What Hiring Managers Look For
In the final assessment, hiring mangers want sales people who are motivated, confident, have outgoing personalities and won’t take no for an answer. They want dedicated workaholics, and they may pose questions to determine what you’d sacrifice in your personal life for your sales job -- such as giving up holidays or weekends. Don’t be fooled by questions that appear to ask one thing when they’re really looking for information related to your underlying emotional, ethical and moral state. For example, a question that asks how you’d respond to seeing an animal hit by a car isn’t about your feelings about animals; rather, it’s assessing how you respond to emotional situations.
While you can prepare the type of responses you think testers want to hear, keep in mind there’s no true way to game tests if you don’t have a truly outgoing and slightly narcissistic personality.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.